Talent wise, climbing the ladder, making the tall grabs, stretching the seam, mismatches with smaller defenders, sounds great. Three problems exist though – raw blocking technique, lack of familiarity with NFL routes, and camaraderie with Trent Edwards.
Those three problems with Nelson are strengths of the Derek’s. They are familiar with Edwards, and they know what’s expected of them.
Derek Schouman a seventh-round pick in 2007 out of Boise State is slated to be the starting TE in training camp. He came in the same year as Edwards and probably knows him best.
Schouman has had some durability issues, he missed almost his entire rookie season due to a sprained ankle, but last year seeing time behind Robert Royal he managed to post a solid 10.2 YPC average and find the end-zone once.
Heavily contending for the starting role is Derek Fine. One of last years two fourth round selections out of Kansas. Buffalo made room for Fine to grow as a contributor by cutting Royal.
Fine is a solid in line blocker, who runs great underneath routes and possesses deceptive speed. Because he is a bit bigger than Schouman, he could be vying for the more traditional TE role, while Schouman takes on the H role.
Where Nelson will contribute this year is pulling defenders away from Terrell Owens and Lee Evans. There really aren’t enough balls to go around for him to have a huge statistical impact, but he can definitely run a fade up the middle and pull safeties.
Not saying Nelson can’t come in and make a contribution, but it will likely be a small one. Buffalo usually takes baby steps with their rookies, no reason to do it differently now.